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Finding Business Opportunities In Trends

Tuesday, July 06, 2010   By Mike Reddy


Ultimately, analysing trends is a vital part of the sustainability of your business. What trends are impacting your business today? As a business coach I understand that one of the toughest challenges for many business owners is to not miss a great opportunity through being caught up in the day-to-day demands of running the business. In times of rapid change it’s more than just useful, it’s vital to sit back and consider how certain trends may impact your business. Think of the way ebooks are impacting on hard print publications for bookstore owners to appreciate what we mean about how important it is to look at trends.

Have you done a PEST check?

Start by setting some time aside for a bit of PEST analysis (yes, it really is called this, although it’s full official name is PESTLE analysis). This stands for a ‘Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental’ analysis of the factors that may affect your business - not just in the current climate but also in the future.

More positively, it’s about looking for opportunities in those trends that are going to affect your industry and the way you do business.

From a business coaching perspective, here's how you can analyse trends that may impact your business.

1. Be objective

Keep an open mind. It’s sometimes hard to step back when your industry or business has operated in a particular way for a long time but there’s no guarantee that's going to be the way of the future. Be open to the idea that your industry may change considerably. And it may change soon! This is where a ‘Business Diagnostic And Performance Review’ with Shape Your Business can really help by scanning the wider environment as it relates specifically to your industry.  

2. Network with people from other industries

Make opportunities to talk to people who run different types of business. Of course it makes sense to attend industry specific networking events, but then your perspective is only from one side. When you talk to people in other industries you'll gain an insight into how certain trends affect their specific business - and this could shed light on new ways of looking at your own. Talk with your accountant who has clients across many industries. They should be able to share some information about what they see happening.  A growing number of accountants, business coaches and other business advisers are joining our own network, so another option would be to have a chat with us at Shape Your Business.

3. Analyse your data for patterns

Analyse the data you have collected in the course of running your business and look for patterns. With regard to sales for instance, are they seasonal? Does business boom during the school holiday periods? Is there always a rush between 4pm-5pm? This can help you plan the use of your resources more effectively and also target your marketing campaigns based on certain trends.

4. Check what is going on in other regions

Many a great business idea has been gleaned from cross border markets. A quick way to begin is with internet research, but even questioning friends who’ve travelled recently can offer you insights.  But there's nothing like visiting another region and ‘mystery shopping’ at a business that's considered to be a leader in your field. A side benefit is that you also get to experience their business from the customer viewpoint, useful knowledge when developing ideas for your own customer service.

Perhaps you have some other ideas.  Feel free to share!

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.